Syrian interior minister treated in Lebanon for bomb wounds

Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:30am EST

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* Shaar's condition not critical, hit by shrapnel

* He was also wounded in July bomb that killed 4 Assad aides

BEIRUT Dec 20 (Reuters) - Syria's interior minister was receiving treatment in Beirut on Thursday for wounds to his shoulder, stomach and legs suffered when his ministry in Damascus was bombed last week, Lebanese medical sources said.

They said Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar's condition was not life-threatening and that doctors were trying to remove shrapnel and perform reconstructive surgery on his wounds.

The minister was in a wheelchair, but had spoken with officials on his arrival in Beirut on Wednesday evening.

A car bomb and two other explosives were detonated at the Interior Ministry in Damascus eight days ago and at least one of the blasts struck inside the ministry complex, residents said.

Syrian state media said at the time five people were killed, including a member of parliament, but that Shaar was not hurt.

It was the second time Shaar had been wounded in five months. He was also hit by the July 18 bomb that killed four of President Bashar al-Assad's top security officials.

Days after that explosion the 62-year-old minister, his arm strapped and in a sling, told state television the assassination had only hardened the authorities' determination to crush the uprising against Assad, which is now 21 months old.

"Before this cowardly explosion, we were all working flat out. But now we will exert 10 times the effort to pursue those who threaten the security of our country," he said.

Shaar, born in Latakia in 1950 and a member of Assad's Alawite minority, served as head of military police before the president appointed him interior minister in April 2011, part of a government installed four weeks after the revolt broke out.

According to his biography on the ministry's web site, he joined the army aged 19, and is married with five children.

In May his name was added to a European Union list of Syrian officials facing EU sanctions because he was "involved in violence against demonstrators".

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